Filming a Nuclear Documentary in the US and Poland

During this summer, I and some course mates embarked on a journey in which we began the production of a feature-length documentary about the survival of nuclear war – with the end goal of having the audience ask themselves if surviving such an ordeal would ultimately be worth it.

The first of two shooting blocks scheduled to take place during the summer months occurred in the US. This began on the 20th of June when we arrived in Chicago. Here I arranged for us to interview the CEO of The Bulletin – the organisation that analyses global nuclear risk and portrays it in the form of ‘The Doomsday Clock’.

We then travelled to Springfield, Missouri, to film the RK Shows Survival Expo and Gun Show – a place where ‘preppers’ gather to see the latest in survival techniques and technologies. This event was somewhat disappointing, however, as it turned out to be more of a gun show than a survivalist one and attendees were cautious in giving permission to be interviewed. 

I then arranged for the two on-screen characters of the film to go to a shooting range and, by sheer chance, the shooting range owner also hosted a radio show. After the shooting, he invited the pair to be interviewed on-air and discuss nuclear fallout survival practices and ideas. 

Other filming locations included a natural disaster supply shop, a Minuteman missile silo, and Mount Rushmore.

On the last leg of the trip, we visited a bunker site in South Dakota known as Vivos xPoint, an 18 square mile re-purposed military base that now houses 575 underground bunkers. Here we toured the site and interviewed the CEO of the multi-million dollar company that has bunker sites globally. This interview concluded our US shooting on the 1st of July. 

Less than two weeks later, the Poland shooting block began on the 12th of July. This took place just outside of Szczecin in a massive post-apocalyptic role-playing game called OldTown Festival that was held in a giant abandoned airfield. We felt that the filming, and participation, of this event would be a great introduction to the documentary as it would show pop-culture obsession with the idea of a nuclear apocalypse. The festival began on the 15th of July and can best be described as mayhem.

Several interviews were also conducted, including one with Mark Cordroy, the previous head of props and costume for Doctor Who. The Poland shooting block ended on the 21st of July.  The greatest concern we had during the shoots was ensuring the we stayed within budget as we still have at least two more shooting blocks planned. Luckily, with some strict self-control, the budgeting requirements were adhered to. The most valuable lesson that I took away from these experiences was that you should never be afraid to ask; from interviewing the CEO of Vivos or The Bulletin, to filming in a shooting range and post-apocalyptic world – all of these professional relationships started with a simple phone call.

Categories: Go Abroad Fund

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